Multiple studies indicate that women tend to experience greater adversity than men in natural disasters resulting from climate change.
Numerous reports by the United Nations Women’s Organization (UN Women) say that women and girls are more likely to be affected by the consequences of global warming than men in many cases.
Among the many reasons for this stark discrepancy are, women’s role in society and households, their physical sensitivities and increased need for hygiene compared to men, and inadequate access to resources.
Reports by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which deals with the role of women in society in various parts of the world and their participation in business life, stress that women carry out 75% of the unpaid work around the world.
In the event of a disaster, women do not have the financial resources to deal with the situation in question.
Studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) say that the effects of climate change hit women harder because biologically they need more water. If they do not achieve proper levels of personal hygiene due to insufficient water supply, especially during menstruation and during, before and after childbirth, they are more affected by infection-based diseases.
More women than men die in disasters caused by the climate crisis
A study by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin, University of Minnesota, and Arizona State University underlined that climate migrants were on the rise. Women in regions hit by drought and floods had to take care of their children and had difficulty traveling long distances.
The number of women who lost their lives in disasters such as storms, tornadoes and floods that occurred in such conditions is 14 times more than men, the study said.
Virginie Le Masson, a researcher at UK-based think tank Overseas Development Institute, told Anadolu that she was initially suspicious about climate change’s differing effects on genders but her doubts disappeared after visiting several countries.
Underlining that it is very important which disaster occurred in which geography, Le Masson gave an example of the situation from his studies in Africa.
“Here in many places, it is the job of women and girls to bring water to the house. If the water source is too far from home, this job takes up a lot of their time during the day. With climate change, water resources are also decreasing,” she said.
Women then have to spend more time to find a water source, and so they work less in jobs that can earn them an income, she added.
“In fact, this is a domino effect. Women’s workload is higher. They cannot work in jobs where they can earn money, so their capacity to save money and invest in their future is affected,” she said.
“We need to understand that climate change is not specifically targeting women. Women are more vulnerable to climate change as they already face many inequalities,” she concluded.
Amber Fletcher, a sociologist at Canada’s University of Regina, stated that the impact of the consequences of climate change on women may be shaped by geography and the situations they are exposed to.
Emphasizing that women in the global south are particularly affected by this situation, Fletcher shared the example that many women do not know how to swim and are left behind in disasters such as floods.
“The gender gap is at the root of the unequal distribution of resources and power. Such inequalities are also exacerbated when disaster strikes,” she said.